EE MVNA Viacloud UK Group has gone into liquidation, after its Bahraini backers pulled out of the venture.
The shock decision by private equity funders Stratum to pull financial backing for the MVNA came as Viacloud was poised to announce a number of major MVNO deals, including one with cash and carry giant Bestway, Mobile understands.
Sources say Stratum’s decision to withdraw funding was driven by the group’s wider strategy to focus on areas outside of the mobile industry.
Simon Thomas and Nicholas O’Reilly of Moorfields Corporate Recovery have been appointed as joint liquidators of the Viacloud UK Group, including Viacloud UK Limited, Viacloud UK Platforms Services Limited, Viacloud UK Wholesale Mobile Services Limited and Viacloud UK Retail Services Limited.
In a statement the liquidators confirmed Viacloud had ‘anticipated the commencement of core trading operations in the UK during the course of this year, including signing several significant MVNO contracts [but] the commercialisation of the project required funding that was unavailable.’
Joint liquidator Simon Thomas added that ‘it is truly unfortunate that the Viacloud UK Group is currently unable to commercially capitalise upon what has been developed to date, especially given the tremendous efforts and contributions of its staff, suppliers, and partners in assembling a world-class team and infrastructure designed to fuel the growth of MVNOs in the UK and European telecom market.
‘However, we are hopeful that new partners can be identified to take this unique project forward and realise the full potential of the group’s core infrastructure and its unique integration with the UK’s largest MNO.’
Viacloud was launched in early 2012. Its management team was made up of a host of mobile industry big hitters, many of whom hailed from Vodafone including chief marketing officer Tim Stone, a former Vodafone SME director, chief financial officer Richard Schafer, who had been a Vodafone enterprise finance director and James Gray, whose former roles included head of Vodafone OneNet sales and interim marketing director of Mobile by Sainsburys. The MVNA even boasted former CEO of EE, Tom Alexander, as non-executive chairman.
CEO Joe Steel was the MVNA’s most recent appointment. The former co-founder and deputy MD of Virgin Mobile took over from CEO Emanuele Angelidis who stepped down in January this year for personal reasons unrelated to the business.
Stratum and Viacloud were unavailable for comment. EE declined to comment.